Saturday, September 6, 2008

Hanging my hopes on a zucchini

I'm sure I knew how to cook. There are recipe books with pages that stick together to prove it.

I think.

I seem to remember loving cooking and adoring whipping something up for T for dinner.

Didn't I??

Hard to say, because my cooking mojo has been gone now for so long that I think a toasted cheese sandwich is 'special' effort. Nothing is turning out right.

Most dinners look like I have attention-deficit-disorder. Just look at them and you *know* I wandered away from the kitchen and got distracted by shiny things. Meat is overcooked, vegetables grey or just non existant. And everything is boring. Boring with a capital B.

Maybe it was the Tasmanian adventure. Maybe it was the kerfunctness of the fridge on return and complete lack of dollars to replace it (hey, paying a mortgage and rent is HARD). But recently I can't cook to save myself.

This has been going on for months.

Then last night I'd had enough. We had our monthly crit meeting and I'd said I'd bring a cake. Big chance to step up to the plate. The cake plate that is.

So I remember the lovely Keziah telling me about a foolproof cake recipe that everyone LOVED at her place recently. So armed with a zucchini and some mixed spices I tried to save my cooking career.

And it was YUM. No strange lumpy foreign pieces in the middle, just a dense spice cake with a lime dressing that I could've downed a whole bowl of. So THANKS Keziah and thanks Delicious Magazine...

zucchini & pistachio spice cake with lime frosting
Serves 10-12

¾ Cup (185ml) sunflower oil
1 cup (220g) caster sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup (75g) unsalted pistachios, finely chopped, plus ¼ cup (35g) slivered unsalted pistachios to decorate
½ cup (60g) almond meal
2 cups grated zucchini (about 3-4)
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp ground mixed spice
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1½ cups (225g) self-raising flour
½ cup (75g) plain flour
Lime frosting
180g unsalted butter, softened
1¼ cups (200g) icing sugar, sifted
250g cream cheese, softened, chopped
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lime

Preheat oven to 170°C.
Grease a 22cm springform pan and line base and sides with baking paper. Using an electric mixer with whisk attachment, beat the oil, sugar, eggs and vanilla until thick. Stir in chopped nuts, meal, zucchini and spices. Sift over soda and flours, and stir to combine. Pour into pan and bake for 70 minutes or until a skewer inserted in centre comes out clean. Cool in pan for 20 minutes, then turn onto a wire rack and cool completely.
For frosting, use electric beaters to beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. With motor running, gradually add cheese, beating well between additions. Add zest and juice and beat until smooth. Using a bread knife, slice the cake into two rounds and set aside top. Spread a third of the frosting over the bottom half, then replace top and spread cake with remaining frosting. Decorate with slivered pistachios.

From delicious magazine February 2007.